Health Editor’s Note: On my birthday, 55 years ago, we experienced the travesty of JFK’s assassination. What would have been a day of birthday celebration for me in 1963, turned into a horrible experience for our nation and for me. I do not remember poetry so much as watching events surrounding the day leading up to the assassination, the proclaimed death of JFK, and his funeral. My opinion is that if he had not been killed, we would be living in a far greater place. Another thing that has happened is that people do not forget my birthday because there is always a reminder of what day it was and what happened to our nation on that day..Carol
How Poetry Soothed a Nation in Mourning for John F. Kennedy
by Alice George/Smithsonian.com
On that unsettling day 55 years ago this month, the nation began a pageant of tears. President John F. Kennedy was dead of an assassin’s bullet.
Schoolchildren were stunned to see strict and intimidating teachers weeping in the hallways. A Greenwich, Connecticut, mail carrier reported meeting a long line of sobbing housewives as he made his way from house to house. People lined up in front of appliance store windows to watch the latest news on a row of televisions. Before the four-day weekend had ended, more than a million had taken an active role in saying farewell to the president, and millions more had formed an invisible community as television linked living room to living room and brought almost every American within a big tent infused with unsettling questions.
Dazed citizens struggled to regain their equilibrium. Within minutes after gunfire stopped echoing in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza, this murder sent millions reeling, drawing them into a monumental event that would send a shock wave through the nation and create a commonwealth of grief.
In the wake of Kennedy’s death, many newspapers published poetry tied to that weekend. Subsequently, editors Erwin A. Glikes and Paul Schwaber solicited poems about the assassination.